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Pediatric Autism

What Is Autism?

Autism can be a complex issue, and the experts at Banner Children’s are here to help parents and kids make sense of it. Autism spectrum disorder refers to a broad range of conditions that can show up as challenges with repetitive behaviors, social skills, speech and nonverbal communication. Autism has many subtypes along the spectrum, including Asperger’s, childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder. At Banner Children’s, our team of specialists can help you make sense of the challenges, and make the most of the strengths, that come with your child’s autism.

What Causes Autism?

There is no single cause of autism, but research suggests it may develop from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Autism tends to run in families, but certain environmental factors, such as advanced parent age or pregnancy and birth complications, can increase the risk of autism.

Signs and Symptoms of Autism

The signs and symptoms of autism can vary from child to child. Autism’s core symptoms are:

Social Communication Challenges

Children with autism have a hard time with verbal and non-verbal communication, including:

  • Spoken language
  • Eye contact
  • Facial expressions
  • Gestures
  • Tone of voice
  • Recognizing emotions and intentions in oneself and others
  • Expressing emotions

Restricted and Repetitive Behaviors

These behaviors vary greatly across the autism spectrum, but can include:

  • Repetitive body movements, such as rocking or flapping
  • Repetitive motion with other objects, like spinning wheels
  • Ritualistic behaviors
  • Staring at lights or spinning objects
  • Need for unvarying routine and resistance to change
  • Narrow or extreme interests in specific topics

If your child has any of these symptoms, talk to your pediatrician. They can determine if the symptoms may be caused by autism or other medical conditions or syndromes.

How Is Autism Diagnosed?

Diagnosing autism can be difficult as there is no medical test to diagnose the disorder. However, an early autism diagnosis is essential to provide the basis for the appropriate educational and treatment programs.

In most cases, doctors will look at the child’s developmental history and behaviors to rule out any other medical conditions or syndromes to make a diagnosis.

Autism Treatment

There is no one size fits all approach to autism. Treatment for autism is determined based on your child’s specific needs, strengths and challenges. In many cases, treatment can involve behavioral treatments, medicine or a combination of both.

Some children with autism may also have additional medical conditions, like epilepsy or sleep disturbances, that will need to be addressed in tandem with their autism treatment. Treatment for autism and any additional medical conditions can help improve a child’s attention, learning and related behaviors.

Common behavioral treatments and interventions for autism include:

  • Applied behavioral analysis (ABA)
  • Speech therapy
  • Occupational therapy (OT)
  • Pivotal response treatment (PRT)
  • Relationship development intervention (RDI)

Living with Autism

Living with autism can have its set of challenges. Banner Academy provides education to children on the autism spectrum as well as those with emotional and learning disabilities. Our goal is to enhance the academic and social skills by catering to the specific needs of each student.

Autism can be difficult for both kids and parents to navigate. Let the compassionate and expert team at Banner Children’s guide you through this unique condition.